A giant carnival-style pig, displayed by protesters in Munich, was marked with the words “There is no patent on me”.
But big business has patented a way to select so-called “super pigs” – a nightmare scenario for the demonstrators. Environmentalists and pork farmers came together in the German city to argue that there should be “no patents on life”. They are appealing against a patent granted to a US firm. It involves a method of identifying the genetic characteristic that makes some pigs grow more quickly than others, thereby producing meat more quickly. Christof Then of Greenpeace claimed the patent system was being abused to control the breeding of animals and the growing of crops and, to some extent, to control food production as a whole. Bavarian farmers were also out in force at the protest in Munich where the European patent was granted. They believe it could be used to claim rights on all pigs who have the super gene, whether they have any connection to the patented test or not. As a result, farmers fear they may end up being charged royalties. They want action from the German government, which, earlier this week, announced it would ban the cultivation of genetically modified maize.